Grant to help fight blight in northern Ky.

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Associated Press

Posted on June 29, 2014 at 11:00 AM

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Officials in Covington working to improve blighted areas of the city are about to get some funding help.

The Kentucky Enquirer (http://cin.ci/1lOuoKM) reports the city was one of three in the nation to be awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Local Initiatives Support Group to fight blight by having police officers coordinate with city officials.

A representative from the national office of the Local Initiative Support Group met with local officials this month to discuss the grant, which will be given out as training, not cash.

The project is expected to become a model for other cities to follow.

"We are going to be a testing ground," said Kristen Baker, program officer for LISC in Covington. "These sites will develop a curriculum in helping law enforcement work with community leaders to address vacant and nuisance properties."

Even before the initiative was announced in April, police in Covington had begun advising contractors working in blighted areas on safety measures they could take, such as installing outdoor lighting all the way around the homes they are renovating.

Covington Police Chief Spike Jones supports the effort. He said the initiative will help officers develop relationships with residents and the agencies that serve people in the neighborhoods.

But he says it's more than surface projects such as meet-and greets.

"This isn't about handing out stickers," Jones said. "You're getting to the root source of what's driving crime."

By using a multi-agency approach, officers can get a better appreciation for their community.

Lt. Col. Bryan Carter said he encourages police officers to tour homes that are newly rehabilitated so they can see how the work improves the city.

"It's important to take patrol officers off of the street and say, 'Hey, walk through this house with me,'" Carter said. "It gives them fresh perspective on their everyday job."

Rachel Hastings, director of neighborhood and housing initiatives for the Center for Great Neighborhoods, said the training also will help the groups work on other community safety issues.

"It's about working in a collaborative manner, working on the best possible ways of communicating," Hastings said.

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Information from: The Kentucky Enquirer, http://www.nky.com

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